2015 ACC MLAX: Duke headed to finals, UNC falls to Syracuse

CHESTER, PA. – The sixth-ranked Duke Blue Devils fought off a late comeback attempt and beat the top-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 13-8, in 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Men’s Lacrosse Championship Tournament semifinal action at PPL Park on Friday.

The win advanced the fourth-seeded Blue Devils into the tournament final for the first time since 2012, while exacting revenge on the Irish for an earlier 15-10 loss during the regular season.

Case Matheis led the way for Duke with four goals and fellow attackman Justin Guterding added three goals, while goalkeeper Danny Fowler made 12 saves to earn his fourth straight win.

“It’s awesome,” Matheis said on reaching the championship game.

“In my first two years we lost in the semis. Those games are turning points in that they were losses. This time we won and it’s another turning point in building our confidence and building our team dynamic.”

Highlights – ACC Digital Network

Having beaten the Syracuse Orange 15-8 a few weeks earlier, the Tar Heels hoped to reach the conference championship final to face the Blue Devils.

The Orange quelled those aspirations, topping North Carolina 9-8 in the dying minutes of their semifinal.

After the Tar Heels fought back from an 8-5 deficit, both teams were tied until Kevin Rice scored the game-winning goal with 1:48 to play.

Rice held the ball behind the net, took it to his right, and snuck it past North Carolina goalkeeper Kieran Burke to advance Syracuse to the conference tournament final for the second straight season.

Highlights – ACC Digital Network

North Carolina spread its offense amongst seven scorers as Chad Tutton scored twice while Joe Sankey, Walker Chafee, Luke Goldstock, Duncan Hutchins, Brett Bedard and Drewe Hays contributed a goal apiece.

“I thought it was a heck of a lacrosse game,” North Carolina head coach Joe Breschi said.

“I thought our guys played really hard across the board. Just statistically, Kieran Burke was outstanding in the cage and I thought our defense stepped up and had one of their better games of the year forcing perimeter shots and shots that Kieran made. I thought our man-down was great. Our transition game was solid, but I don’t think we quite had that chemistry offensively we have had recently, and I credit Syracuse. They played terrific on 67 percent of the faceoffs as their faceoff guy is a solid guy. But I thought all in all it was a great effort by our guys. I’m really proud of our effort. I’m disappointed in the loss, but wish Syracuse luck.”